Tag: Icelandic volcano

Something for the weekend

by on May.12, 2010, under Birdwatching, Druridge Bay, Lindisfarne, Northumberland

There are times in the winter when I’m mainly office-based and what I really look forward to, during what often seem like interminably long days, is the arrival of the Spring and increasing numbers of ‘client days’.

On Tuesday morning I headed to Newbiggin to collect John and Christine, clients from last year’s Beginners Birdwatching ‘Seabirds and Waders’, who were back in Northumberland for a birdwatching morning in Druridge Bay.  The weather was erratic to say the least, with bright warm sunshine, a bitterly cold northeasterly wind, sleet and even snow it was a morning to be wrapped up warm.  The birding was as excellent as we would expect in mid-May; the morning’s highlights included a male Ruff in full breeding plumage, eight elegant beautiful Black-tailed Godwits, a pair of Garganey and some incredibly close views of Whitethroats as they warbled their scratchy song from hedgerows, trees and telegraph poles.

This morning brought something completely different; a Lindisfarne Safari with our first Spanish clients.  Alfredo and Nieves had managed to get across from Ibiza, despite the disruption caused by the Icelandic volcano, and were looking forward to a day birdwatching on Holy Island and the north Northumberland coast.  The weather was changeable again but, as yesterday, we stayed dry.  A flock of 80 Ringed Plover on Holy Island were very vocal as they repeatedly flew overhead, 2 Little Egrets in Budle Bay flew by calling and a Little Gull and a White Wagtail at Monk’s House Pool were both nice surprise finds.  Eventually we found ourselves bathed in warm sunshine as pairs of Arctic Terns displayed high overhead against the azure sky and, looking inland, we could still see a lingering snowfield on the Cheviot.  Alfredo and Nieves both have a broad, and quite detailed knowledge of natural history, and Alfredo is a keen, and skilful, photographer.  I only have a very limited grasp of Spanish but through a combination of Spanish, English, Latin and a shared love of natural history and photography, any language barriers were easily transcended.

We’ve got Northumberland birdwatching tours for the rest of the week and then on Saturday it’ll be time to chill out with a glass of wine, a BBQ and our National Moth Night event at Lee Moor Farm, near Alnwick.  All are welcome, so give us a call on 01670 827465 if you would like to come along for an evening of wildlife watching fun, suitable for young or old, beginner or expert.

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mid-April magic

by on Apr.21, 2010, under Birdwatching, Druridge Bay, Northumberland, Southeast Northumberland

After a couple of days in the office (although I’m not complaining; I spent those two days finalising details for two new projects and taking bookings for group photography trips and a Northumberland birdwatching holiday) it was good to get out with clients this morning.  Our three clients became just one though, due to the Icelandic volcano, and I collected Ellen from Newbiggin by the Sea for a tour of southeast Northumberland and Druridge Bay.  We started with a search for Mediterranean Gulls.  None of the nice, ghostly white-winged adults were around but there was a 2nd year bird amongst the Black-headed Gulls.  It made a good identification subject, as the lack of obvious white wings meant that it was possible to focus on structure rather than just plumage, although the obvious wing-bar ensured that a discussion of wing topography was easy to relate to what we could see flying in front of us.

Under deep blue skies with fluffy white clouds this was a beautiful morning, although the bitingly cold, howling northwesterly meant that hats and gloves were in order.  At Cresswell we admired our bird of the day; a stunning male Black-headed Wagtail.  I’d never seen one before, and as Ellen is from the southwestern US it was a lifer for her as well.  The geographical connection to where I spent 6 months in 1999/2000 focused conversation on two of my favourite topics; birdwatching and Mexican food.  Summer visitors were evident, with Swallow and Sand Martin flying over all the coastal pools, Willow Warblers singing their silvery, descending cadence sheltered from the wind, a nervous Common Sandpiper just a few metres away from us and, best of all one of the best looking ducks to have ever dabbled around Druridge Pools, Garganey, was another lifer for Ellen.  A pair of Stonechats perched in a bare hawthorn were a welcome sight, after a winter that will have surely decimated their population.  The three hours passed incredibly quickly and I dropped a happy birdwatcher in Morpeth to continue the next leg of her journey through Northumberland.

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